you someone constantly on the lookout for the next potential closer? That’s
what we are trying to pinpoint here, with our Top 5 Closer In Waiting Power
Rankings. These rankings look at the pitchers who appear capable of taking over
their team’s respective closing duties (though in some cases, will need some
help to get there). Keep in mind, if a pitcher is currently part of a committee
they will not be included in these rankings despite not currently “holding” the
Without further ado, let’s look at how things stand (all statistics are through Sunday, unless otherwise noted):
Dominguez – Philadelphia Phillies (NR)
Current Closer – Committee
While it is easy to call this one a committee, it’s one that doesn’t currently have Dominguez in it. On Monday night he was used in the sixth inning, and while it likely was nothing more than a “get him right” type outing, with Hector Neris and Pat Neshek earning the last two saves it’s clear that Dominguez has work to do in order to regain his manager’s trust (including outpitching David Robertson).
Let’s not forget that Dominguez was among the elite relievers in the game a year ago, posting a 2.95 ERA behind an 11.48 K/9, 3.41 BB/9 and 55.7% groundball rate. While there often is some instability from year-to-year, we shouldn’t let one or two stumbles alter your outlook overall. He showed on Monday that he can still bring the elite stuff and it’s only a matter of time before he rights the ship and finds himself back into the mix for saves.
May – Minnesota Twins (NR)
Current Closer – Blake Parker
You can argue that this is a committee situation, though Parker has picked up the last two saves and appears to currently be “the man”. How long is that really going to last when he has 1 K vs. 2 BB over his first 3.1 IP?
Since converting to the bullpen May has shown the stuff to thrive, with an 11.61 K/9 and 2.75 BB/9 over 104.2 IP. Is there going to be the risk of some home runs? Potentially, but opposing hitters need to make contact in order for that to become an issue. He hasn’t allowed a run in his first four appearances this season (4.0 IP) and it may just be a matter of time before he forces his way into the ninth inning mix.
Diego Castillo – Tampa Bay Rays (1)
Current Closer – Jose Alvarado
The Rays are among the more unpredictable franchises when it comes to bullpen usage, as someone can be the closer one day only to operate as an opener the next. The Rays have used both Alvarado and Castillo in the closers role, at least a little bit, this season and both have thrived:
- Alvarado – 6.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10 K, 3 BB, 4 SV
- Castillo – 7.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 7 K, 1 BB, 1 SV
Clearly Alvarado is the preferred option, but you can argue that Castillo is just as good (if not better). For now he’s going to be considered “next up” but with the Rays you never know and Alvarado may not have to stumble for a change to be made.
Boxberger – Kansas City Royals (NR)
Current Closer – Committee
This situation is a hot mess, but it’s easy to overlook Boxberger having gotten off to an extremely slow start after getting a 1 out SV in his ’19 debut (4 ER on 4 H and 2 BB over 2.0 IP). Over his past two appearances he’s looked dominant, with 5 K vs. 1 BB over 2.0 IP, and he’s up to 8 K over 4.1 IP overall this season. Does anyone believe in pitchers like Ian Kennedy or Wily Peralta establishing themselves in the role? This situation is completely wide open and with back-to-back strong showings Boxberger has certainly tossed his name into the mix. How many opportunities will that yield is a different argument, but if you are searching for any type of potential he needs to be on radars.
Ty Buttrey – Los Angeles Angels (2)
Current Closer – Cody Allen
While Allen has done the job thus far (0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP), let’s not forget that he pitched his way out of the role for the Indians a year ago as he struggled with his control (4.43 BB/9) and home runs (1.48 HR/9). Is anyone truly comfortable that he isn’t going to fall into those patterns once again?
Enter Buttrey, who showed all the skills we look for in his 16.1 innings with the Angels last season and has been even more impressive over 5.2 innings in ’19 (2018 // 2019):
- Strikeouts – 11.02 // 14.29
- Walks – 2.76 // 0.00
- Groundballs – 56.8% // 58.3%
Obviously we are talking about 22.0 IP overall, but the stuff is there and Allen is hardly a certainty for success.
Dropped from Rankings:
- Alex Reyes – St. Louis Cardinals (3)
- Kelvin Herrera – Chicago White Sox (4)
- Joe Jimenez – Detroit Tigers (5)
Current Committee/More Information Needed:
- Atlanta Braves – A.J. Minter/Arodys Vizcaino
- Baltimore Orioles – Mychal Givens/Paul Fry/Michael Wright
- Boston Red Sox – Matt Barnes/Ryan Brasier
- Miami Marlins – Sergio Romo/Drew Steckenrider